“All Programs” empty in Windows 7 Start menu

I recently ran into a problem in my computer (Windows 7). I wanted to start Eclipse and as always, I opened up the start menu and started typing eclipse. On any other day, windows would show the Eclipse.exe even before typing the entire name. But that day nothing came up and I waited and waited and waited and finally some system files showed up. I was kinda surprised. I clicked the “All Programs” menu and was totally taken back! It was completely Empty! Ive never seen something like this before in my experience of using Windows 7.  I thought my Programs folder was deleted somehow or some access privileges were revoked or something. I tried all I could and couldn’t come up with a solution to the problem. I gave up and today I was goofin’ around and I thought I’d open up my Programs folder under “Users” Folder to see if I can fix this. I found too many programs that I never use in that folder. I started deleting them one by one. Then I got bored and shut down by PC and later started it again and to my surprise all the programs came back to the All Programs menu once again!

It seems Window’s 7 doesn’t like to have too many program shortcuts in the start menu. I haven’t done any research as to how many items it can hold. But I had nearly 80 – 90 items in that menu.

So if you have the same problem follow below steps to resolve it.

  • Open Start menu and right-click  “All Programs” and select “Open” if you want to delete current user’s program shortcuts or “Open All users” if you want to delete shortcuts for all users.
  • Now in the ensuing Win-Explorer window delete the unnecessary program shortcuts.
  • Log-off and then Log-on again and now the start menu should be back to normal!
Note: Deleting program shortcuts from “Programs” folder does not delete the actual application. You can safely remove stuff from this folder without affecting the functioning of any of your applications.
Steve Robinson

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